This morning we went to Voice of Truth Baptist Church in Chisinau. This is the church that Alex, Lucia and several of their children attend. The oldest son goes to another church where he works with the youth group and one of the girls attends yet another church.
The church is about five years old. It reminded me in some ways of Lake Shore. It meets in the auditorium of a school (Lake Shore’s beginnings), has moveable chairs, and is very friendly. However, it is very different in many other ways. The service was more of a contemporary service with a praise group and songs on the screen.
They stood for the first part of the service, singing many songs and praying. Of course we had no idea what they were singing or saying. Irina, the oldest daughter, from time to time told us what was happening. They introduced a family that is going as missionaries to Russia and had a prayer for them. Then one of the four pastors gave his sermon.
After the sermon we had communion. When we came in we saw they were preparing for communion and asked Irina if we could partake. She was surprised that we ask and said that of course we could. She had never heard of a church that would only allow their members to have communion. This is the first time either of us have had communion with REAL WINE! Genie was impressed with the thought that we were partaking of the bread and wine in the same way that was probably going to happen at Lake Shore this morning and that Christians had participated in for centuries. What an awesome experience this is!
The auditorium was filled with people standing at the back. There were people of all ages from babies to elderly women. I did not see any older men. Families with small children sat at the back and came in and out as their children got restless. There were a number of older women that sat in front of us. They looked quite old, but on second consideration were probably our age and we thought about how different their lives have been than have ours. They have lived through persecutions for being Christian and other hardships of the Soviet era.
After communion there was a time of greeting with people turning to speak to one another. We thought the service must be over but everyone got quiet again and sat down. Then we had the SECOND sermon from one of the other pastors! His sermon was one hour long (Thanks Dorisanne for short sermons!!!). Preston got worried that since they had four pastors that we might have four sermons. It would be hard to sit through an hour sermon if you understood what was being said but to not know was really hard. We watched some children on a hill outside the church enjoying the snow with their sleds to help keep us awake. The entire service was 2 ½ hours! Although it was long and rather cold (everyone kept on their coats) it was a very worshipful experience. The pastor came to greet us before the service and spoke in English.
The church has a ministry to alcoholics and Friday afternoon we met one of the men who has been through the program. He was doing some carpentry work for Alex. He is an addict and was in prison for some time and is now a worker in this ministry. He claims only a 3% recidivism rate for the program. They take only highly motivated individuals and “God does the rest.” All of the people who work in the program are former addicts. It sounds like our rehabilitation programs in the ’60’s & ‘70’s doesn’t Martie? I wish you were here because I am speaking to their group tomorrow night and what little I know about addiction I learned from you.
The snow is about two inches deep today but is beginning to melt. It is very cold and damp. We are thankful for a warm place to stay—warm physically and warmth from this loving family!